Linda Brooks Vensel, a third-generation rancher in the Sonoita/Patagonia area, will be honored by the Arizona Center for Rural Leadership (CENTRL), a program affiliated with the University of Arizona, at a celebration Saturday June 4, 6:30 at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel in Chandler. 

Vensel is a descendent of early settlers, Ira and Lillian Brooks, who homesteaded in Sonoita in 1915. Ira was a rancher, farmer and dairyman and Lillian taught in one-room schools across the county. She rode a horse and buggy with her two youngest to school. The trails were rough and sometimes the three of them would spend the week at school and return to the homestead on weekends. 

Vensel grew up in Patagonia and later relocated north of town when her parents, Stayton and Rose Brooks, obtained a section then known as Crittendon. The property included a rock house built in 1885, originally a two-story structure called the Smith Hotel, with a mercantile and bar on the first level and rooms to rent upstairs. The second story was removed during later renovations. The building still stands today on SR82, a few miles northeast of Patagonia.

Vensel graduated from Patagonia High School and then the UA Department of Agriculture with a BS in both Home Economics and General Agriculture as well as a MS in education. She taught school for several years in Marana before going into agriculture finance in the banking Industry and later retired from the AZ Department of Agriculture. 

After the death of her parents, she and her husband, George, moved back to a portion of the Stayton Brooks Ranch where they resumed raising cattle and volunteering in many activities supporting cattle ranching. 

Her numerous accomplishments furthering the agricultural economy include serving as Trustee for the Arizona 4-H Foundation and President of both the UA Department of Agriculture Alumni Board and the Arizona State Cowbelles. She was named UA Alumni Distinguished Citizen in 1998, Life Member of the AZ National Livestock Show and AZ Cattlewoman of the Year in 2009. She is also a member of the AZ Cattlegrowers Association and has served in many capacities for the AZ Cattle Industry Research and Education Foundation. 

The event is open to the public with registration required at $55 per person for the 2022 Centrl Celebration. To register, visit